24th July 2018

A Farnborough Air Show Review

Paul Clark

Bringing you insights into the latest happenings in the world of airline fleet planning and aircraft manufacturer strategies.

After a whirlwind of a week in Farnborough, time for some reflection.

Judith and I first visited the Farnborough Air Show in 1983. Things were very different then. We picnicked on a large rug spread on a grassy knoll, lazily soaking up the sun and paying scant attention to the afternoon’s flying display. Thirty-five years later we returned to do business!

Ready for business!

I am not entirely sure, but it’s likely that Through The Looking Glass Ltd, with a total staff complement of just two persons, was probably the smallest company exhibiting in Farnborough this year. Despite this, we have snagged some pretty big customers over the last couple years, including the principle airframe and engine OEMs, as well as major airlines.

Running a stand at Farnborough is not plain sailing, as Judith will testify in her companion post. I will only be able to claim a success if we can generate sufficient new business to offset the rather large price tag. All we needed was just a couple of visitors who are looking for a serious business partnership. I am pleased to say that we may have achieved that objective. Time will tell…

We did attract some attention. Alan Peaford dropped by with a camera crew to interview us for a slot on ‘FINN’, or Farnborough International News Network. We will let you know when (and if!) the video appears. Hadi Sirika, Nigerian Minister of State for Aviation, and a former student of mine, dropped by along with his entourage. It was a real pleasure to greet Professor Rigas Doganis at our stand. Rigas is not only an old friend but my former professor who inspired me to make that first visit to Farnborough back in 1983.

Professor Rigas Doganis visits TTLG

A visit to Farnborough would not be complete without catching up with some former Airbus colleagues. Anaïs Marzo Da Costa, Head of Interiors Marketing, took me on a tour of Airbus aircraft. What a thrill to sit in the cockpit of the ‘new’ A220-300! I could not resist teasing her by suggesting that Airbus should have named the aircraft ‘A220%’, to commemorate the proposed tariff percentage the Americans wanted to slap on CSeries sales to the United States. Here is Anaïs visiting our stand (holding her cell phone), along with another former Airbus Marketing colleague, Franck Navallon.

Airbus visits TTLG

For each of the trade days, we ran a quiz in the form of multiple choice questions. Every winner was presented with a copy of the third edition of Buying The Big Jets. Thursday’s winner was Bill Read, Deputy Editor of Aerospace, the magazine of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Judith and I were delighted when Bill wrote up his visit to our stand in the daily Royal Aeronautical Society Farnborough blog. Thanks, Bill!

Bill Read visits the TTLG stand

Another esteemed visitor to the stand was Jorge Abando, Vice President Marketing of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation. Jorge is an old friend who was instrumental in launching SkyChess in its earliest days. Jorge proudly showed Judith and I the MRJ90. A very impressive aircraft indeed. Thank you Jorge!

With Jorge Abando, Vice President Marketing, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation

All in all, it was an exhausting but exhilarating five days. We met wonderful people and, hopefully, will soon be able to report on some new business ventures. Will we be back in 2020? To be honest, this is doubtful. Exhibiting at Farnborough is an ambition realised, and I would prefer to leave it at that.  In any case, would we still be able to summon up the energy?